Green. Natural. Eco-friendly.
Chances are, you’ve seen these terms on a label before… and maybe even believed them, too. As society becomes more environmentally-conscious (in part due to environmental issues like climate change and air pollution), an increasing number of brands are being pushed to adopt planet-friendly practices—or to misrepresent the extent to which they are actually doing good for the earth.
This rise in public awareness—and the resulting pressure on companies to integrate environmental benefits into their business operations—has become so prevalent in recent years that there’s even a term for this kind of marketing: Greenwashing, also known as green sheen. (Even the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines on how to differentiate between what’s actually green and what’s just another form of greenwashing.) (1)
There are many examples of greenwashing, but the phenomenon is viewed as a deliberate corporate action featuring false or misleading elements designed to deceive consumers. These elements can be elusive, like using nature imagery to evoke misleading perceptions about the level of greenness, or more overt, like featuring the word ‘organic’ on a product when really, only a miniscule amount of the ingredients actually qualify. (1,2)